Latino Civil Rights Figures: George I. Sánchez

Born in New Mexico in 1906, George I. Sánchez spent his life advocating for a better education system for Latinos and minorities in the Southwest. Born into a poor family in Arizona, Sánchez began his career as a public school teacher in New Mexico, working with Latino and Native American youth.

After witnessing the educational hardships they suffered, Sánchez developed theories on school inequalities claiming that bilingual students were discriminated against within a monolingual education system.  In 1940 he published “Forgotten People” which explained his theories in full and was one of the first to use sociological methods to detail the problems and experiences of New Mexicans.

Sánchez went on to become a faculty member at the University of New Mexico and then later moved to Texas where he held several positions at the University at Austin.  Sánchez also served as President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

Despite all of his accolades, Sánchez appears to be largely forgotten in his home state. According to a recent article in the Fresno Bee he is relatively unknown in New Mexico, the place where he began his fight for equal education rights. As explained in the article, some speculate that the cause is political reasons, others say the state chooses to focus on other points in Mexican-American history.

His work hasn’t been completely forgotten, as schools in California and Texas have been named in his honor.

[Photo By The University of Texas at Austin]

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